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7 Reasons for Low Employee Engagement

Have you ever considered how your employees perceive your business? Are they proud to tell others where they work?

You may have considered the best ways for hiring and recruiting new staff, but what happens after that? How do you ensure your employees maintain a positive perception of your business?

Low employee engagement is an increasingly prevalent problem. Across all industries, more workers are reporting that they are unhappy at work. According to a Gallup report, 51% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, while 13% are actively disengaged. This unhappiness will prevent your company from being its best.

When employees are disengaged, they may not be fully invested in their work and may not be putting in the effort required to achieve their goals. This can lead to a decrease in productivity, quality, and overall performance.

However, the opposite is true when a company has a workforce that is fully engaged. A team of engaged employees experiences higher productivity, a sense of community, and satisfaction with their work. Another Gallup report on employee engagement shows that companies with a highly engaged workforce have 21% higher profitability.

Considering this, how would you know if your employees were unhappy? Would you even know that they were unengaged in their work?

There are some warning signs. Here are six reasons for low employee engagement.


Lack of Growth Opportunities

Lack of growth opportunities is a common reason why employees feel disconnected from an organization. This can occur when an employee has been with the company for years and has yet to see an opportunity to advance in their role. Other times, an employee may simply want to move into a role that isn’t higher, but just different, so they can try a new challenge. When such opportunities aren’t available, a loyal employee can become disengaged, and may lose their motivation to “go the extra mile” in their everyday work.

It can be difficult to find great employees.  The lack of growth opportunities is also one of the main reasons why good employees quit their jobs. This makes it even more important to develop and retain the great ones you already have.


Lack of Recognition

Do you have a recognition program for your employees? How do you show employees that their work is appreciated? Even the most intrinsically motivated employees want to know that their efforts are being recognized. When employees no longer believe that their hard work is noticed, they may begin to feel disengaged from their jobs. Some may decide to simply do the bare minimum that meets the job description. In short, these employees become disengaged due to a lack of recognition.

Recognition programs don’t have to be fancy or expensive in order to be effective. Giving preferred parking to an Employee of the Month is one free way to reward employees for an exceptional job well done.

Peer-to-peer recognition programs are another way some workplaces choose to provide recognition – colleagues can recognize one another, rather than recognition only coming from a person of higher authority.

Company Culture

Although 94% of executive leaders and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success, it can be hard to put into words what a positive company culture is. It’s perhaps easier to first understand what a negative company culture is. In a negative culture, gossip, harassment, and abuse are common. People feel uncomfortable asking for help or sharing resources with one another.

Managers may yell at their subordinates or use sarcasm towards their subordinates to remind them that they’re the ones in charge. Over time, a negative company culture can be impossible to tolerate, causing increased absenteeism and increased employee illnesses.

A culture in which performance standards are unequally enforced can also breed dissatisfaction. For example, if a small number of people on the team are doing the bulk of the hardest tasks, this can cause disengagement. Or, if one or two underperforming employees are not coached accordingly, this can be demotivating for those who are following the rules.

Poor Communication From Management

Policies and procedures change in an organization of any size, but in a dysfunctional organization, poor communication is a constant theme. Employees may be left out of the loop when it comes to tasks that are critical to their job functions. Poor communication can also be a factor when employees have no idea how their performance will be judged. This can leave employees feeling “set up to fail” due to unclear expectations for the job.

You may not enjoy doing performance reviews. However, it’s important for your employees to know if there’s a problem with their performance before it gets out of hand. Being proactive with your team and letting them know if they’re meeting your expectations can keep the lines of communication open. And, if your employees are missing the mark, it’s important to make them aware of this so they can improve their performance.

Disconnected from Peers

Are your employees truly a team? Does everyone have at least one other person they can reach out to for help if they don’t know how to do something? Employees who have peers to turn to for help are more engaged in their work. Those who do not may struggle more to get through the tough days. Camaraderie develops within positive teams, but in fractured teams, disconnection is the norm. This disconnection causes employees to lose motivation and satisfaction with their jobs.


No Sense of Purpose Within the Job

Not every job is glamorous, but even mundane jobs can become meaningful if there’s a sense of a larger mission at stake. Not having a sense of purpose is a common reason for employee disengagement. Why is my job important? Why does my job matter?

How does my work fit in with the rest of the company? These are questions that every employee should have an answer to. Every employee should know that what they do matters, and that their work is critical to your mission.


Lack of Quality Feedback

For many leaders and employees, performance reviews can seem cumbersome. They are often formulaic and can make both parties uncomfortable. However, just because employees can not see the benefit of traditional formal reviews, it does not mean the employees do not want feedback from leadership.

Without quality feedback, employees may not know how they are performing or what they need to do to improve. This can lead to feelings of uncertainty and a lack of direction. This lack of direction be demotivating for some.

Also, when leaders provide poor feedback, employees may not know what is expected of them.This often causes the workers to wonder how their work fits into the larger goals of the organization. This can lead to a lack of purpose and meaning in their work, which as mentioned before produces low engagement.

Lack of feedback can also lead to a lack of trust and respect between employees and managers. Without regular feedback, employees may feel that their managers do not value their contributions or care about their development.

Regular feedback from managers is crucial for employee engagement. It helps employees to understand their performance. It also helps align their work with the goals of the organization and feel valued and respected by their managers.



Low employee engagement is a difficult problem, but not an insurmountable one. The first step to overcoming it is acknowledging it. There are several common signs that a workplace may be vulnerable to low employee engagement. Once these signs are recognized, a plan can be developed to help employees feel more empowered and happier at work.

Erin Shelby on TwitterErin Shelby on Wordpress
Erin Shelby
Team Writer: Erin Shelby is a writer and blogger based in Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @ByErinShelby

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Team Writer: Erin Shelby is a writer and blogger based in Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @ByErinShelby

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